Posted by: atowhee | July 27, 2017


We are learning ever more about the complex communications that occur among other animals that are not primates. Now that we have a President who speaks in broken sentences we are learning that in the chickadee family there is a right way and wrong way to form your sentences. Maybe a Chestnut-backed Chickadee would make a better political leader?
Click for report in “Science” magazine about how birds structure their sentences and what happens if the bird talk is gibberish. Their tweets are better formed that some human tweets we have seen, yes?

Posted by: atowhee | July 26, 2017


My wife and I stopped at Boiler Bay late this afternoon. Not a second was wasted while we were there. Bright sun. Blue sky and bluer water. Some lazy fog hanging far offshore. Busy seabirds in a feeding frenzy. Crows and gulls patrolling the parking lot. 68 degrees…when we got home to Yamhill County in early evening it was still over 90. B-B CRO1B-B CRO3BEAG AT B-BComnmon Murre:COMUFeedinf frenzy which had attracted murre, guillemot, gulls and Pelagic Cormorants:ff at b-b
bloy -b-1These two oystercatchers were just twenty yards from the edge of the parking lot.bloy b-b2bloy b-b-3gulls at b-bgulls-x at b-bTen years I would have ignored the floating kelp leaves.
But now many historic kelp beds have vanished along the California coast–victims of warm ocean water and a plague of sea urchins which in turn was fostered by a die-off of predatory starfish…all likely linked to climate change. In many places the urchins have grazed all the kelp and even killed the ones that try to grow back. Like sheep on a dry pasture. Enjoy and cherish our precious remaining kelp.KELP YESThis little guy had al lthe behavioral traits of a fledgling…looking at a nearby large predator he could only manage a “duh?”SOSP JUV B0-B
Did not see a single pelican on the drive from Newport north to Lincoln City.

Boiler Bay State Wayside, Lincoln, Oregon, US
Jul 26, 2017 3:30 PM – 3:45 PM. 8 species

Pelagic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pelagicus) 40
Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani) 2
Common Murre (Uria aalge) 30
Pigeon Guillemot (Cepphus columba) 15
Western Gull (Larus occidentalis) X
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) 8
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) 3
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus) X

Posted by: atowhee | July 25, 2017


A bright and sunny morning, with the temperature headed above 90 this afternoon. I tasted a couple of blackberries. They are still tart but the juice is rich and a few more days of hot sun and there’ll be sugar enough to please even Nora’s sensitive palate. The sweetest berries, naturally, are those still on the vines just as desiccation sets in at the end of the season. Though I have seen berry pickers already it is a bit too early for the best flavor.
At Joe Dancer Park the swallows were busy, a Kestrel was hunting the ball fields and a young Bewick’s Wren was out exploring his new world. bw scruffbw take-off
The unmown grasslands were white with Queen Anne’s lace now in full flower. Bits of thistle fluff still float across the sky and fields.

Eating lunch outside near the feeders today: pair of chickadees and a single, young RB Nuthatch came and went repeatedly…taking sunflower chips each time. A male House Finch alighted in one platform and just munched away. Later a male House Sparrow came, ditto.HOFI HOTTIMG_2209
The young swifts, hatched in our chimney, get louder every day. I see them out in the air with their parents. But when they are resting back inside the sputtering and cheeping is formidable in volume. The chimney as echo chamber helps, no doubt.

Joe Dancer Park, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jul 25, 2017 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM. 15 species

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) 1
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) 1
Vaux’s Swift (Chaetura vauxi) 1
Downy Woodpecker (Pacific) (Picoides pubescens gairdnerii/turati) 1
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) (Colaptes auratus [cafer Group]) 1
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) 1
Steller’s Jay (Coastal) (Cyanocitta stelleri [stelleri Group]) 3
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) 1
Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina) 3
Barn Swallow (American) (Hirundo rustica erythrogaster) 5
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii) 2
American Robin (Turdus migratorius) 10
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) 1
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) 4
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) 2

Posted by: atowhee | July 24, 2017


Humble Humbug Creek in northern Jackson County has rainbow trout this year, thanks to a wet winter. Here’s a photo from Peter Thiemann, who lives along the creek:humbug trout

Posted by: atowhee | July 24, 2017


A family of Western Kingbirds has been spotted in northern Yamhill County by birder Cindy Torgersen . They have been feeding from power lines near the intersection of Mineral Springs and Bayliss Roads. That’s northwest of Lafayette and southeast of Carlton. Here’s here best picture:ek-bayliss road

Posted by: atowhee | July 24, 2017


A southern California newspaper published a great photo of a pair of California Condors cuddle up next to one another. It was taken by one of the paper’s local readers. Click here and enjoy.
Condors can become quite relaxed around humans and much of the wild population was raised in captivity so humans are not feared as they are by most wild bird species.
My best-ever condor pics were taken by my friend Gary Joe as he slipped into a resort;s hot tub at Big Sur and looked up to see condors messing around with the resort’s towel stack…he ran back to get his camera and the rest is history/mystery. What’s so fascinating about a towel?

Posted by: atowhee | July 23, 2017


There were two adult gulls at the Carlton Sewer Ponds this evening. They were cooperative and then un-cooperative. They just stood around and watched me as the Shovelers freaked and flew around like starlings. Then the gulls flew up in the air but wouldn’t come near. They were large, flat heads, pale mantle, gave me goo dlooks. It would have been so much more cooperative if they had simply been Ring-billed Gulls…but they insisted on being Herring, so when I entered the sighting eBIrd snorted and made me go through the “rare bird” drill. When was the last time anywhere in North America (except the Mojave) when a Herring Gull was truly rare? so a gull person has suggested that leg color indicates these are California Gulls, fasirly regular around here in most seasons and larger than Ring-billedGLLSKilldeer on the levee.KD ON LEVEEDKS IN AIR

Carlton City Sewer Ponds (restricted access), Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jul 23, 2017 6:05 PM – 6:15 PM. 10 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) 6
Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) 15
Mallard (Northern) (Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos/conboschas) 20
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) 15
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) 1
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) 9
California Gull 2
Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina) X
Barn Swallow (American) (Hirundo rustica erythrogaster) X
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus) 1

Posted by: atowhee | July 22, 2017


Welcome to the future. Don’t buy any cheap real estate in the land of permafrost, ’cause that permafrost is not longer perma-nent. Seems the tundra is melting now with climate change, that fees methane trapped for ages, and that can mean major blow-outs. Of course, Fox News won’t cover this so the Trumpistas can continue to pretend that climate change is a Chinese threat.

So click here to read about a Siberian heat eave that unleashed anthrax and exploding methane craters in tundraland. Think maybe if it gets bad enough, Putin can convince his pal, Trump, to get on board with trying to reduce greenhouse gases?

Posted by: atowhee | July 22, 2017


Heading home from some errands in Portland, I stopped at the Tualatin River NWR in early afternoon. The temp was over 90 degrees so I was the only visible mammal out on the levees. The first thing I noticed in the air was cotton fluff drifting by from thistles now ripening. There wasn’t much else flying. Not a single raptor in the sky. Only crow was heard from, not seen.
Even the clouds were lazy. The over-stuffed white puffs lounged along the horizon line, taking a siesta after a heavy lunch perhaps. Cloud, air and time itself seemed sedated. Only thistle tufts in motion.TUAL IN JULY1TUAL IN JULY2
The air itself was perfumed by the dense lines of pennyroyal. Though not a native it is well adapted to that margin of marsh that is at the high water line in winter, allowing early germination but not drying out completely until late summer. pennyryl
Most of the waterfowl were loafing though some ducks and geese were lazily feeding in the grass or on the water. For the dabbling ducks this must be the best time of the year for ripe pond scum—algae and other organisms must be growing at their greatest rate right now with the long days and hot weather. You can almost feel the march bubbling and putting out O2.
Eventually there was action. The Red-winged Blackbirds flew back and forth a couple times. Families of Mallards pretended I was a predator and paddle away. Then a small flock of Canada Geese came in low from across Hwy 99, giving no honks but a few little squeaks, then the landing.
CAGO GRAzcago land-acago land-bcago landccago landdNobody is better at standing very still:GBH-TUALgbh-tual2mall-famSmall songbirds were largely hiding from the heat and the glare. The swallows were very high in the sky. The insects must be riding up on some strong thermals as the sun constantly heats the air near the ground. I pished at one clump of brush, hoping for at least a goldfinch or Song Sparrow. Instead this guy came in. “Peep, peep,” he said then marched along the muddy edge of the
The only non-avian voice I heard was single sequence of croacks from a bullfrog.

There were many dragonflies crusing over the marsh today. This guy I found yesterday, loafing on a rock in the middle of Baker Creek. A whitetail, I believe.df-bkr crkMy nieghbor’s rowan tree is draping its heavy fruited twigs over my fence as it awaits the waxwings to discover it.rowanThe Long-billed Dowitchers were far off and the rising heat waves made pictures very impressionistic but you can make out the long beaks in one image:lbd-tual1lbd-tual2

Here is what one myth site (as oppsed to mythical site) says about the rowan in European folklore: “The rowan’s mythic roots go back to classical times. Greek mythology tells of how Hebe the goddess of youth, dispensed rejuvenating ambrosia to the gods from her magical chalice. When, through carelessness, she lost this cup to demons, the gods sent an eagle to recover the cup. The feathers and drops of blood which the eagle shed in the ensuing fight with the demons fell to earth, where each of them turned into a rowan tree. Hence the rowan derived the shape of its leaves from the eagle’s feathers and the appearance of its berries from the droplets of blood.” Click here for further read.

Tualatin River NWR–Atfálat’i Unit
, Washington, Oregon, US
Jul 22, 2017 2:40 PM – 3:20 PM. 17 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) 130
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 150
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) 2
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) 3
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) 4
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) 14
Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus) 9
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius) 1
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) 2
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) 1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) 1
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) 2
Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina) 6
Barn Swallow (American) (Hirundo rustica erythrogaster) 2
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) 1
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) 50
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) 1

Posted by: atowhee | July 22, 2017


“Science” magazine is carrying new report on how difficult it is to test ravens because one might break the experimenter’s rules…then teach the others. Read about it here. Maybe our next President should be a raven. I hear they’re fairly honest in dealing with other ravens. Big brain, you know. They actually control impetuous impulses to work for the future. Whatta concept…
Here’s link to video of Japanese crows using crass to crack nuts. I’ve seen them doing that with walnuts in Ashland, Oregon. Even gulls do it with clams dropped onto sidewalks in the Bay Area.
Only certain politicians couldn’t figure that out…maybe because it is not specifically explained in the Bible or the U.S. Constituion?

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